Controversial Vietnamese movie The Third Wife has received three nominations at the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards, Hollywood’s annual honor for indie films.
It has been nominated in the Best Cinematography and Best Editing categories while director Ash Mayfair, whose real name is Nguyen Phuong Anh, is in the running for the ‘Someone to watch’ award along with American director/producer Rashaad Ernesto Green and American filmmaker Joe Talbot.
The winners, to be announced at a ceremony in on February 8, 2020, will be selected by a group of filmmakers, industry executives and movie enthusiasts.
The Third Wife premiered in Vietnam in May this year but was pulled out of theaters three days later amid public criticism of its use of a 13-year-old actress in intimate scenes.
The movie was inspired by a true story from the director’s own family. Set in 19th century Vietnam, it tells the story of 14-year-old May (Tra My) who becomes the third wife of a wealthy landowner. The young girl hopes to give birth to a boy to enhance her status in the family.
Filmed in the northern province of Ninh Binh, the movie was praised for the lushness of its images and exploration of themes including female sexuality and women’s role in a patriarchal society, and marriage during a time when polygyny was still common practice.
Mayfair’s debut film has won several prizes at international festivals including the NETPAC Award at the Toronto International Film Festival (Canada), TVE-Another Look award at the San Sebastian Film Festival (Spain) and Best Film award at the Kolkata International Film Festival (India).
The Film Independent Spirit Awards are given by non-profit group Film Independent to “champion creative independence in visual storytelling and support a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision.”
Since 1984 they have recognized films that are deemed ‘independent’ based on criteria like budget, financing, vision and “original, provocative subject matter.”